It's natural to feel nervous about job interviews. But you can use mock interviews to gain confidence and make a better impression on a potential employer.
Preparing for a Mock Interview
1. Do your research. Act like you're preparing for the real thing, starting with comprehensive research. Identify the industry and the type of position you want. It may be helpful to use an actual job description from a specific company to keep you focused.
2. Rehearse answers to common questions. Put together a list of questions that are likely to get asked in an interview. Practice a brief opening statement describing your qualifications. Later, you can customize this for each situation. Go over your job history to extract several success stories that demonstrate your abilities.
3. Develop your own questions. Brainstorm relevant questions you can ask to demonstrate your interest and knowledge about the job opening. Find out how industry trends are affecting your potential employer. Clarify aspects of the organizational culture that may not be described in its written materials.
4. Choose your mock interviewer carefully. A friend who works in human resources may be an ideal choice. People with a managerial position in your chosen field can also be helpful. Look for someone who can devote adequate time and take the task seriously.
5. Discuss your goals. Have a preliminary talk with the person who's helping you. Share what you want to achieve with them. Let them know that you appreciate candid feedback on your entire performance, from body language to verbal responses. An outside observer can help you identify any distracting mannerisms you may have.
6. Select a neutral setting. Try to hold your interview in the same type of setting you want to work in. If you're looking for an office job, visit your friend's office before work or book a meeting room at a local restaurant.
7. Dress the part. Wear your interview suit. It will help to put you into the right mindset and give your friend a chance to confirm that you're dressing appropriately.
Conducting a Mock Interview
1. Record your session. A video or audio recording provides helpful documentation. You'll be able to see how much you really fidget or how often you insert the word "like" into your sentences.
2. Repeat as often as possible. Schedule as many drills as you need to get comfortable and competent with the interview process. Ask your friend to vary their questions and approach each time. Keep track of your progress.
3. Work on your greeting and closing. Everything you do contributes to the impression you make on your potential employer. Learn to shake hands smoothly while you're carrying a briefcase. Prepare concise closing statements that sound natural while expressing your gratitude and enthusiasm.
4. Finish up with a debriefing. Review every session with the person helping you. Gather all the advice you can. Write down what you need to work on, as well as the areas where you succeed in making improvements.
5. Watch yourself in a mirror. It's best to train with another person, but using a mirror is the next best thing if no one else is available. You'll be able to see whether you look poised or anxious. Watch your hand gestures and observe your facial expressions. Even if you do have someone to help you, practicing with a mirror is a valuable supplement to your mock interviews.
6. Consider professional services. If you want to go a step further, explore professional services. Most universities offer a wide range of support through their career service centers. Employment agencies are another resource to explore.
The more you practice, the better you'll perform at your actual interview. Mock interviews can make you stand out as a better candidate in this competitive job market.